QUESTIONS are being asked about billions being spent by Scotland’s 31 Integration Authorities on plans to merge health and social care.

In a report published today, Holyrood’s health and sport committee say there is an “unacceptable” lack of information on how money is being spent.

Committee convener Neil Findlay said there were concerns that increasing bureaucracy would lead to the different different agencies working on the proposal blaming “each other for the lack of progress with integration”.

Findlay said: “There’s a distinct lack of data to identify and evaluate outcomes, including spending and savings. This would be unacceptable for any public money let alone over £8 billion. It needs rectifying immediately and a mechanism for facilitating scrutiny of performance, spend and savings put in place.”

The committee’s report said that while IAs had an overall budget of £8.29 billion there was “no breakdown of this figure to individual integration authority level” which made scrutiny of budgets “very challenging”.

MSPs also expressed concern over the “lack of assessment of the outcomes”.

“We are very concerned IAs are taking allocation and investment decisions without assessing, or even possessing the ability to assess the relationship between and effectiveness of spending on outcomes,” the report said.

The committee called on the Government to provide the organisations with “clear parameters” so that spending can be measured against specific outcomes.

The MSPs said: “The complete lack of benchmarking or assessment of performance across IA must be addressed. Only in this way can efficiencies and best practices be identified.”

The report added: “The Scottish Government must have confidence its priorities are being met. There is currently very little data on the overall performance of IAs or information on how they are allocating their money.

“The inability of the Scottish Government to evaluate IAs’ performance against its own priorities cannot be desirable”.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Integration is one of the most ambitious programmes of work this Government has ever undertaken.

“It is already delivering health and social care services that are working more efficiently, putting people at the very heart of treatment decisions.

“This year’s Audit Scotland report noted that Integration Authorities were beginning to have a positive impact, particularly with national improvement in delayed discharge.

He added: “We will continue to monitor the budgets and effectiveness of IAs to ensure they deliver on agreed outcomes.”.